When Benazir Bhutto strode on to the national scene in December 1988, the entire nation welcomed her in, wishing her well. Even the most diehard anti-PPPites opened their hearts to a young woman, the first Muslim woman to be elected to the post of prime minister of any country, Muslim or non-Muslim. She came in with all willing and hoping that she successfully takes up the opportunity offered. She promised the nation an age of miracles. Sadly there were none. Her own failings, and those of her party, plus the machinations of the military and the establishment saw to it that not only were miracles not performed but that her stay in power was short-lived. And now, never let it be said that miracles do not exist. For Asif Zardari a veritable miracle has come to pass. Cast out into the cold, after the 'agreement' reached between the Americans and Musharraf on the 'bring back Benazir' operation last year, he was designated to play no part in the dispensation envisaged. Then came the miracle, in tragic form. The murder of his wife and the revelation to the nation of a piece of paper according to which Benazir had allegedly undemocratically bequeathed an entire political party, created in the name of democracy, to a husband whose reputation in so many ways was hardly either shining or democratic. A shrewd man, versed in the ways of the world of politics, Zardari played his cards astutely and with a certain amount of perceived skill. Burdened with the charter of democracy, signed by his wife and his former arch-enemy, a man who had gone out of his way to persecute him for crimes allegedly committed, he joined forces with Nawaz Sharif, in the larger national interest and, of course, in his own interest, with the sole joint aim of wielding power and ridding themselves of a common enemy, President General Pervez Musharraf. Thus, they came up with the Murree Declaration or Accord or whatever - with these two divided purposes in mind. To many, this demonstration of unity between two rivals was a sickening spectacle. Luckily for the sickened, it did not last long as Musharraf was ousted, and then came the old game. When stuck in politics, start a fight, even a muted fight, because even if one does not know who will win, when a fight is on and things are in motion, one can hope to see a way through. Zardari saw his way through long ago, and those who of late have expressed surprise at his ultimate aim have to be nave. From the day he opted to stay out of the by-elections and thus not put himself forward as a potential prime minister, it was obvious that the presidency was his aim. Then, when he suddenly turned his guns on Musharraf, despite having stepped into the shoes of his dead wife and the 'agreement', it became glaringly obvious that nothing less than the head of state chair would do. The possible became the inescapable. We now have what we have, and as Confucius is said to have apocryphally proclaimed, when rape is inevitable the best thing to do is lie back and attempt to enjoy it. In a country which is neither ideological nor functional, we have had for far too long feudal businessmen practising their own brand of democracy as an avocation, with commitment to the country being a far cry. What politics that exist are purely politics of patronage. This nation cannot afford the exposure given by the foreign media, though it be deserved. The Wall Street Journal, hardly a rag, on September 2 ran a column entitled Pakistan's Next President is a Category 5 Disaster. "If there is a case to be made against democracy, few countries make it better than Pakistan," was the opening sentence. The final paragraph was equally damning: "Al-Qaeda and the Taliban feed on chaos, and a Zardari presidency will almost certainly provide more of it. For Pakistanis, this is a self-inflicted wound and a rebuke to their democracy. For the rest of the world, it's a matter of hoping that Pakistan will somehow muddle through. For now, however, this looks like a Category 5 hurricane, dark and vast and visible just offshore." The writer is a freelance columnist E-mail: arfc@cyber.net.pk